Teaching safety measures to children in order to protect your privacy from social media.

Teaching safety measures to children in order to protect your privacy from social media.

What is Social Media?

Social media is a term that is broadly used to describe websites, online and mobile software, tools which enable people to interact and to share information, opinions, interest and knowledge.

Children enjoy social media for many reasons like:

  • Social media helps children to express themselves easily and to explore their identity.
  • Helps them socialise with their friends.
  • Keeps them informed and updated on the latest topics about their friends, peer groups, relatives, latest news about celebrities and so on
  • Helps them with learning in an informal setting, which is largely the learning that is happening today with the pandemic situation.
  • Social media helps them discover and explore varied and alternate interests.
  • Helps them collaborate with their peers on schoolwork and extracurricular or all other fun activities.

Privacy risks involved with Social Media:

Children are very connected today, and this can lead to parents being very busy monitoring everything kids do when they’re online. While many children seem comfortable with technology, social media and the internet; we forget they are still learning many things, and that they might not always be sure or prepared to spot the risks connected to social media.

  1. Tell them the importance of privacy: encourage children to limit personal information which they list online. Your children should not post their full names, birth date address telephone number or school information on the social media websites.
  2. Teach your children to set their profiles to private, where only confirmed friends can have access to their information. It is important to teach them about the privacy section on the social media networking sites to protect your child and your privacy.
  3. Use the ‘no picture forwarding’ or ‘no picture download’ options so that your children’s photographs cannot be passed around or downloaded to friends of friends or others.
  4. It is exceptionally important to stress the importance of never sharing passwords.
  5. Many children, even adults believe that internet browsing is anonymous. Explain to your children on the permanence of digital reputation. Whenever they share content, post something online, visit a website, upload information, they’re adding to this digital footprint, which can be gathered under their actual name and accessed by interested parties such as marketing developers, future employers and so on. This may occur without your or your child’s consent or knowledge.

  1. Emphasize to your children the importance of never sharing personal information online. Whenever they have to fill a form or any online material that requires their personal information, tell your children to check with you first.
  2. Keep them informed that, even if they put up bits and pieces of information on their profiles, it is easy for people to get their physical address, for example, if your child gives their full name and uploads pictures of their neighborhood or school photographs, it could easily pinpoint their location even without the children adding their location online.
  3. Detailed information about their hobbies: what they like to do, personal interests, provide easy access for strangers to make friendly contact with your children. Keep your children informed that they should only make online contact with people that they already know. Despite telling them about these risks, you have to monitor your child’s online friendships and who they communicate with.
  4. Teach your children about unwelcome contact. This could include harassment, bullying (which is known as cyber bullying), stocking, and so on. Like any unwanted contact, this source can be a stranger or could be somebody your child knows, it can be an adult or even another child. Teach your child about the risks and ask them to look at pointers when such incidences occur. Without your knowledge or consent, the said person:
  • May be able to piece together all the publicly available information on your child to discover your physical address or your children’s school.
  • Can pose as a peer on chat rooms and social networking sites, upload hostile, embarrassing, or mean posts about your children into chat rooms and networking sites.
  • They can create fake profiles of your children and embarrass or hurt them and bully them.
  • They can also use your child’s available phone number or email address to send hostile, inappropriate messages and emails or even call them without consent.
  1. Inappropriate or harmful content: we need to protect our children from internet materials that are inappropriate, illegal, unsafe or frightening. Children may inadvertently come across such material, even at times when they are trying to be safe. For example: if they use a search engine for a legitimate topic and get a link to an inappropriate site, if they click on hyperlinks or pop-ups or open junk emails or spam, or open an email attachment, or even something as simple as playing an online game.

To avoid this, parents need to monitor children’s internet usage.

  • You can do this by having a common area within the household where your child uses the Internet devices and you can easily monitor what your child is doing.
  • Helping your child protect themselves by teaching them strategies to avoid such inappropriate content.
  • You can install filters on your server and devices. You can install safety software on your laptops and mobile devices so you can restrict your children’s online activities to approved websites alone.
  • Tell your children to stick to websites whenever they browse online, which are approved or bookmarked by you.
  • Advise children to avoid any activities such as clicking on pop-ups and links or hyperlinks, opening junk mail and so on.
  • Teach them about reporting content, which is harmful and inappropriate, you can do this as well by lodging a complaint with the content supplier or broadcasting authority.

At Sherwood High, we believe that apart from the above said things; it is important to always model the kind of positive online behaviour you would like from your children. When they see you being cautious and respectable when online, it is more likely that they follow in your footsteps. Without instilling fear in your children about social media, or preventing them from experiencing the many educational, social, and other benefits of it, give them the knowledge, skills and understanding they need, to make the most of it and to avoid the dangers of Social Media.

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